The Matchup Machine - Week 8's Best and Worst
For those subscribers who were active readers in 2012, you might remember that last season I wrote a weekly column breaking down the best and worst matchups for running backs. Using PFF’s grading system I was able to breakdown and pinpoint matchups along the offensive/defensive lines and between the fullbacks and tight ends/ linebackers. However, there is more to a running back’s weekly matchup including coaching tendencies, what direction a running back has success rushing to and the likelihood that a team is rushing based on the score of the game. All factors considered, I was able to predict the worst matchups at a highly successful rate while also targeting some of the breakout backs of the week.
This season I will be trying something a little different. Instead of just focusing in on the running backs, I will look into all of the different matchups in fantasy football including quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends in an attempt to pick the overall best and worst matchups of the week. Fortunately, PFF has all the tools to break down each individual matchup. Want to know how your wide receiver is going to do? Well if he lines up as a split end on 90% of his snaps, we can pinpoint which cornerback he will be matching up with for those snaps.
Of course, as was the case last season, this column will become more accurate as the season goes on and we compile more grades for the players and get a feel for tendencies and overall strengths/weaknesses of the 32 teams.
Before each new matchup projection for this week, I will revisit my prediction from last week so you all can get an idea of the process and its results. All the results will show how a player scored in a standard scoring system and in a 12 team league. The only difference is that by “standard” I am referring to what the majority of leagues have moved to – 0.5 points per reception. If you are a reader at PFF, it is likely that you are playing in this scoring system.
I find that this column can best be used for fantasy football day gamers. In leagues set up on websites like fanduel.com, you can choose from the entire player pool and must assemble a team based on a salary cap format. You can get a 100% deposit bonus & chase the dream of the $1 million 1st prize at the FanDuel Fantasy Championship.
Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options for Week 8.
Also, please feel encouraged to tweet questions at me on Twitter @PFF_DanSc or post them in the comments if you want to know any specific cornerback/wide receiver matchups for your players or if you want an idea of how your running back’s offensive line grades out or the rush defense that he faces.
Last Week: Tony Romo – 18th-overall QB
What Happened: The Eagles defense played their first impressive game of the season in the first half. Romo got going in the second half, but failed to score a touchdown to go along with his 300+ passing yards.
Peyton Manning vs. Redskins
Peyton is an obvious every-week starter at quarterback and we all know that. This column, however, is dedicated to the best matchups. While I do often opt with a lesser-known player if the matchup is close, it is far too tempting not to target the Redskins defense. You know that things have gotten really sour for your defense when Josh McCown comes in off the bench and proceeds to move his team down the field for several touchdowns without taking a single first-team rep in practice the entire year. The Redskins have moved backwards and are grading out as our second-worst defense in pass coverage (-30.3). By default, Brandon Merriweather had been starting at safety. He is suspended for this game and his direct backup E.J. Biggers might be the only safety in the NFL who takes worse angles to the football.
The Redskins have used four safeties this season—Brandon Meriweather, Bacarri Rambo, E.J. Biggers and Reed Doughty. Together, they have a combined (-12.3) grade in pass coverage. Manning will pick apart this secondary the entire game. He has his options and can freely toss the ball anywhere on the field.
Machine Readout: Start him and invest in him in your daily fantasy football leagues!
Last Week: Eli Manning – 22nd-overall QB
What Happened: Manning burned me again in what proved to be one of the ugliest games of the 2013 NFL season. He missed an easy touchdown to Hakeem Nicks early and Victor Cruz dropped an easy touchdown later.
Aaron Rodgers @ Vikings
Up until this point, Rodgers has been an incredible disappointment for those owners who had drafted him in the first or second round. In early August I labeled him as a player to avoid drafting, but that was based partially on his ADP. Don’t worry because this is the week where Rodgers flashes his rare form. At (-19.0), the Vikings have graded out as the seventh-worst team in pass coverage thus far. This number could be much worse. Just last week, the Giants receivers got wide open on two easy touchdowns—both times they failed to secure the catch and neither time did the credit belong to the defender.
Making matters worse, their most talented player in the secondary, safety Harrison Smith, is no longer healthy enough to play. Eventually, the Packers will pound the ball on the ground against an equally weak Vikings’ run defense. However, Rodgers will likely get going early and take advantage of the Vikings scheme which has proven to be very vulnerable to giving up big plays in one-on-one coverage.
Machine Readout: Start him and invest in him in daily leagues if you want to save a little salary rather than sending it Manning’s way.
Last Week Tom Brady – 26th-overall QB
What Happened: Brady struggled again after having built some momentum in the previous weeks.
Ben Roethlisberger @ Raiders
Things are finally coming together for the Steelers as they are currently on a two game winning streak. Improved play along the offensive line has a lot to do with their recent success. Roethlisberger himself deserves most of the praise. In three straight games he has been wildly efficient and has completed over 70% of his passes. This week, he faces off against a pass defense that is as equally unsuccessful so far as the Vikings’ secondary he torched in Week 4.
The Raiders have graded out as the eighth-worst team in pass coverage (-18.8) while generating no pass rush and grading out as the third-worst team (-20.0) at generating pressure. The Steelers should have a field day against this secondary and will expose them with three wide receiver sets.
Machine Readout: Start him! Roethlisberger is my pick for the best value in daily fantasy leagues for Week 8.